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Dos Santos steps down as leader of Angola’s ruling party

JOHANNESBURG — The former president of Angola says he made mistakes during his long rule but holds his “head high” as he steps down as leader of the ruling MPLA party.

The speech by Jose Eduardo dos Santos at a party congress on Saturday came as delegates moved to elect President Joao Lourenco as the new chief of the MPLA, which has led Angola since independence from Portugal in 1975.

Dos Santos said he was ready to hand over party leadership, Portuguese news agency Lusa reports.

Former defense minister Lourenco succeeded dos Santos as president after elections last year and pledged to fight corruption that flourished under his predecessor, who took power in 1979.

Early on, Lourenco fired Isabel dos Santos, the former president’s daughter, as chair of state-owned oil company Sonangol.